Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski met with former presidents and premiers to discuss an upcoming visit by Dmitry Medvedev on December 6. The meeting of the National Security Council included former Wojciech Jaruzelski, the last communist leader of Poland.
Was it wise?
Michael Szporer, Professor of Communications, Arts, and Humanities, University of Maryland University College
General Jaruzelski has been attempted for some time now to legitimize his misdeeds and make himself into “an architect of Polish democracy” [see his comments to Rosiiska Gazieta among others], which he wasn’t. It is historically well documented that he lobbied for Soviet intervention in Poland before declaring martial law himself; as Minister of Defense, he was by virtue of his office responsible for the shootings in Gdynia in 1970. He wasn’t choosing the lesser of the two evils, as he claims; he had several options in December 1970 and in 1981. He could have followed Foreign Minister’s Adam Rapacki’s example who resigned in protest in 1968. It would have meant the end of his career but it would have been an act of courage.
President Komorowski clearly could use more competent foreign policy advisors. His choice of General Jaruzelski , however, is very unwise on several levels. It only deepens the existing antagonisms in Poland; erodes confidence in him and a government that rules by default and accident of history; and symbolically rehabilitates the general showing lack of respect for history. Most importantly, the decision by the president makes no sense strategically. What useful advice can he possibly obtain from a has-been dictator about how to negotiate with president Medvedev? I agree that improving relations with Russia is in Poland’s national interest, but why rehabilitate Jaruzelski in the process and polarize Polish society more than it already is?